05 Apr KEEPING A NEIGHBOUR’S CUPBOARDS STOCKED – NEIGHBOURLY HELP THROUGH TORBAY COMMUNITY HELPLINE
By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead
EVERY week hundreds if not thousands of people across the Bay deliver thousands of hours of free volunteering time.
Many charity and voluntary organisations would grind to a halt without the generosity of a veritable army of volunteers who give their time willingly, week in, week out, all year round.
Opportunities to volunteer are as varied as they are numerous and can range from the smallest act of kindness to a regular commitment – some behind the scenes, some very much in the public eye.
Hundreds of people also rely on the kindness of others for support which comes in many forms from a simple phone call that cuts through the loneliness to a regular run to the local shops for food and essentials.
Take volunteer shopper Peter Long who makes sure his neighbour’s cupboards remain stocked and she always has food on the table.
Angelique Redwood of Ellacombe in Torquay realised a couple of years ago that her increasingly poor mobility made her trips to the shops even more difficult, and she turned to the Helpline for support.
“My mobility is terrible,” said the 86-year-old whose only family, a son, lives in Nottingham, “but I want to stay in my home and having my shopping done for me allows me to do that,” she added.
Each week the retired secretary provides Pete with a list and trusts him to make substitutes if necessary and he takes an extra basket when doing his own shopping in Sainsbury’s.
“I am so lucky to have Pete, who, along with my carers, cannot do enough for me. It makes my life that much easier,” said Netherlands-born Angelique, who has lived in the Bay for more than 30 years.
Pete is not the only volunteer on standby to help out, “I am fortunate in having others who will step in when I am stuck, but Pete is normally there for me.”
Volunteering was an important step for Pete, who had been lost in a fog of grief after the death of his wife of 35 years, Anne: “It has given me a sense of purpose; volunteering was the kick in the pants that I needed,” said the 63-year-old former lorry driver who also served in the military.
“People don’t always realise that volunteering, whatever it is, is all about doing something for others whilst doing something for yourself.”
And shopping is not the only form of volunteering that Pete has been involved in; before a heart attack, he was also a regular helper at the Riviera Vaccination Centre.
“I would recommend volunteering to anyone and everyone,” he said before adding, “there is no better way of giving something back whilst at the same time getting something out.”
No piece about volunteering in Torbay would be complete without mention of the indomitable Bob Ward, who came to it later in life, but now can’t get enough and keeps on coming back for more.
In a typical show of generosity, Bob decided he did not want any gifts or lavish celebration for his 70th birthday but wanted to make a difference for people less well-off than him instead.
That meant that at one minute past midnight on Saturday, April 1st, he braved wind and rain to pound the streets of Torbay walking 70 km to mark his landmark anniversary to raised nearly £5000, to give 70 families in the Bay food and clothing vouchers, each valued at £70.
Bob will be no stranger to regular readers of this newspaper as the one-time Torquay butcher first stepped up at the beginning of lockdown in 2020 when he acted as a rapid responder for the Torbay Community Helpline and delivered and prepared food for Eat that Frog.
Even when he returned to work after furlough, he missed volunteering so much that he undertook a non-stop 12-hour coastal walk to raise money for Christmas food hampers distributed by his old colleagues at Eat that Frog.
When he saw what was happening in Ukraine, he knew he had to do something and organised a 2,500-mile round trip carrying urgently needed supplies to neighbouring Poland on the war-torn country’s borders.
To find out more about volunteering opportunities and how you can make a difference, go to Torbay Together online or call the Helpline on 01803 446022.